Singapore Civil Defence Force

The Problem

Before the implementation of Fire Safety Online Processing System (FISOPS), turnaround time for building plans processing and enforcement checks was not ideal, and the service-level to the public was not desirable. The less-than-ideal turnaround time for the processing of building plans and enforcement checks often resulted in businesses not able to start their operations earlier and enforcement officers not being able to conduct scheduled inspections on premises. Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers’ productivity was not optimized as they had to spend more time on building plans processing and planning enforcement checks manually.

In addition, three-dimensional (3D) building plans could not be submitted electronically to SCDF for fire safety clearance, engineers and architects could only do manual submissions via post or walk-in counter when they want to submit 3D building plans for fire safety clearance.

Also, building companies and the engineers and architects community are required to submit their building plans separately to both Building Construction Authority (BCA) and SCDF for processing that further inconvenient the public.

As the information pertaining to building plans, fire certificates, licensing and enforcement was disparate and not easily available, it is often time consuming to collate the information for decision making and strategic planning purposes.

The need to streamline the regulatory process and enhance the service standards to the public has led to the implementation of FISOPS.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
FISOPS is a system used for managing Fire Safety Regulations in Singapore. The key functions include building plans processing, licensing processing, fire certificate issuance, and fire safety inspections and enforcement checks.

The solution was designed with different accessibility options to the engineers and architects in submitting the building plans. In addition to manual submission, applicants are able to initiate their transactions with SCDF through online submission via BCA’s system or via SCDF eServices. SCDF has streamlined and integrated the backend processes, thus allowing the public to transact with the Government with a single touch point.

The system provides services to the public in the areas of building plans and licensing processing, churning out an average of 600 instances of workflows and 1500 transactions per day. The system has resulted in significant improvement of turnaround time for building plans processing and licenses application with SCDF. For example, building plans processing has reduced from five to three working days and waiver processing has also reduced from four to two working days.

FISOPS also supports industry-standard 3D building plans and is critical in streamlining the workflow of building plans processing for the building industry. The 3D building plans can be processed together with non-3D building plans submissions and do not need to be processed via a separate channel or manual means. The faster turnaround time of building plans and licensing processing is significant to shorten the process for companies to obtain the necessary licenses to operate their business. The system is also designed to allow seamless integration with external agencies to allow one-stop submission of building plans processing. For example, industry building plans submission via BCA CORENET will be routed to the SCDF FISOPS system for backend processing.

With FISOPS, the enforcement team is efficient and able to conduct more site inspections as the digital pen component has helped in the reduction of double data entry. Incidents of fire safety violations has reduced significantly due to more inspections; thus making Singapore a safer and secure home.

The infomation below illustrates how the KPIs are measured and achieved:

Turnaround Time (Building Plans Approval)

To improve turnaround time by 20%

Impact to the Industry
Savings of one working day per case or 28,320 working days per year (average of 118 cases per day).

Turnaround Time (Enforcement)

To improve turnaround time by 20%
To reduce error rate by 20%

Impact to the Industry
Savings of one working day per case or 10,560 working days per year (average of 44 cases per day)

Ability to process 3D Building Plan

To process 20% of daily submission in 3D Building Plan
Impact to the Industry
46 submissions of 3D Building Plan per day or 13,800 Mb of 3D Building Plan per day

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
SCDF Fire Safety and Shelter Department and Technology Department officers came up with the initiative and other external agencies, namely BCA CORENET team and SPRING OBLS team were involved from the onset of the initiative. The implementation of the solution was outsourced to an external vendor.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The objectives were to streamline the processes and to improve turnaround time for building plans approval; cater for 3D building plans submission and integrate information to aid SCDF officers in their enforcement operations. The strategies of these initiatives are to establish clear and measureable objectives, focus on delivering the impacts of the initiative, and to align the initiative with industry direction. The objectives and strategies are established by core project team and endorsed by project steering committee and SCDF Commissioner and Ministry of Home Affairs Permanent Secretary (MHA PS).

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The FISOPS project team was formed which comprised SCDF fire safety and shelter department and technology department officers. The project team reports to the project steering committee chaired by SCDF Commissioner. The project team went through a rigorous exercise to review internal operation and workflows to brainstorm for improvements as well as to identify gaps in the previous process. The information gathered was collated into detailed tender requirement documents which were subsequently released to tenderers for bidding. Tender process was followed through and the tenderer was selected and awarded to implement the solution. The awarded supplier then revisited and confirmed requirements with key users. This was followed by system development, system testing and systems commissioning.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The main obstacles encountered are ongoing organizational restructuring and policies changes which took place during the project cycle. Early and frequent engagements with various users groups are conducted through focus groups, interviews and prototyping so as to minimise major impacts to the implementation. The system is designed with flexibility in place so that changes can be adopted without major implication to the overall design and schedule. In addition, SCDF senior management provided the necessary support and constantly emphasize on the goals and objectives so that all SCDF staff are aligned and believed in the common vision of the initiative.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The total budget for the project was S$5.42 million. The project team consisted of officers from the SCDF fire safety and shelter department and technology department which provide regular updates as well as seeking directions from the steering committee which is chaired by SCDF Commissioner.

The implementation was outsourced an external vendor and the duration of the implementation is about 13 months which consisted of various areas such as requirements gathering, system design, system development, system testing, and system commissioning.

The implementation largely benefits the building industry professionals and also businesses as faster turnaround have helped them start their operations without delay. It also benefits the SCDF officers with greater productivity and integrated approach to information in order to assist them in their operations.

Below are excerpts of verbatim comments on how both the industry and the professionals have benefited with the implementation of the project.

“FISOPS has enabled DP Architects to obtain their building plans approval faster …” Mr. Song Yew Kee, Architect, DP Architects Pte Ltd

“FISOPS has enabled SCDF to achieve our KPIs and meet customer satisfactions …” MAJ Lim Lam Kwang, Senior Fire Safety Consultant, SCDF

“FISOPS has great potential to leverage on leading edge technology to deliver excellent service to public in the area of fire safety domain …” Mr. Sivasubramanian Ramesh, Service Delivery Director, HCL

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
From the economic perspective, the initiative is sustainable as the building plans approval function is closely tied to the building industry and impacts all the ongoing as well as planned building projects. The faster turnaround time for building plans process affects the building projects schedule and the business operation. It is also in line with Whole of Government (WOG) pro-enterprise effort to streamline processes for building plans and licensing approval.

From the social and regulatory perspective, improvement on enforcement operation carried out on building premises will be an ongoing national effort to uphold fire safety standard in Singapore.

The document management and workflow technology adopted by the SCDF in providing the service to public could be replicated to other agencies at the national level with similar functions; and FISOPS system could be replicated to other agencies at the international level, e.g. National Fire Department, for management of fire safety regulations.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
A common vision with aligned goals and clear objectives is established within SCDF which are to uphold fire safety standards nationwide, to align with building industry to support for 3D building plans submission, to improve turnaround time for processing of the building plans approval and enhance enforcement operation.

Leadership commitment
The senior management are fully committed to the initiative and gave full support in many areas such as committing sufficient resources, providing important strategic directions to the project team to rallying stakeholders in the other agencies for deeper collaboration.

Effective use of technology
Due to the complex requirements, various technologies of segment are harnessed and integrated to bring about an innovative solution that allows the initiative to fulfil its key objectives.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Singapore Civil Defence Force
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Jeganathan Ramasamy
Title:   Director Technology Department  
Telephone/ Fax:   68483700/ 68483737
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   91 Ubi Ave 4
Postal Code:   408827
City:   Singapore
Country:   Singapore

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